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News > Latin America

Historic Win: Argentine Congress to Start Official Debate to Legalize Abortion

  • Women demand

    Women demand "legal abortion." | Photo: Twitter / @NatasaKve

Published 20 March 2018

Supporters said “guaranteeing the right to abortion is an obligation of the Argentine state” on the eve of Congressional debate.

Argentina’s lawmakers are set to debate Tuesday a law to legalize abortion presented by the National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe and Free Abortions. This is the seventh time the campaign asks Congress to debate the legal reform.

Women Denounce Femicide, Demand Legal Abortions in Marches Across Latin America

On the eve of the congressional debate women of the campaign rallied in front of Argentina’s presidential residence, Quinta de Olivos, to demand action against what they called a problem with consequences that “fall specially on young impoverished women.”

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday the General Legislation Commission, headed by Daniel Lipovetzky, a lawmaker of the ruling coalition Cambiemos who supports the measure, will agree on the methodology for the debate and a time table.  

Lipovetzky explained that on the complexities of the debate is that “if we only decriminalize abortion we stay halfway and we don't solve the problem of high maternal mortality… linked to unsafe abortions, where the most affected are women of the most vulnerable sectors.”

This is a historic victory for Argentina’s women movement, which first introduced the proposal to legalize abortion in 2007 with no success.

At Monday's rally one of the women told local newspaper, Pagina 12, “decriminalizing and legalizing abortion is extending citizenship to all society, extending the rule of law to women and people with the capacity to gestate… It is an obligation of the Argentine state to guarantee the right to abortion to advance towards the highest standards of international law.”

They’ve also summoned a rally Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. in front of congress. Their mobilization is crucial to amass support form undecided legislators, who according to Lipovetzky  account for 20 or 25 percent.

The right to abortion has gained prevalence in Latin America over the past few years.

In 2017, Chile and Bolivia eased their restrictions on abortion in spite of opposition from right-wing christian groups. This year, Bolivia decided to legalize abortions for girls and teenagers within the eighth week of pregnancy, while Chile legalized them when a woman’s life is at risk, in case of rape or when a fetus is not viable.

The United Nations considers the criminalization of abortion as a “grave violation of women’s human rights,” and a form of discrimination against women. Over 50 percent of Argentines support decriminalizing abortion according to consultant firm Synopsis.

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